Do you want to host an ultimate BBQ feast for your friends and family but the best smoker is all you lack right now? Can’t decide between an electric smoker and a pellet grill? Well, we appreciate your effort of doing the homework before purchase. And after spending your hard-earned money, the last thing we want is you ending up with the wrong gear.
Both the electric and the pellet smoker have their pros and cons. Some prefer the easy to use electric ones. Other prefer pellet ones to get the richest flavour bbq possible from an electric smoker. So, we are here with a clear and concise picture on electric smoker vs pellet smoker.
We’ll walk you through the factors you need to consider before you make a choice. Scroll down to find the right one that fit your needs. Also, don’t forget to go through our FAQ section. You may find there answer to the similar questions that might be buzzing in your head too.
Head to Head Comparison: Pellet Grill vs Electric Smoker
After doing the research, we have come up with these factors you need to weight before making a purchase:
- Cost Efficiency
Here is the electric vs pellet smoker chart to help you quickly understand their dissimilarities at a glance:
|Features||Electric Smoker||Pellet Smoker|
|Flavour||Satisfying||Authentic and rich|
|Convenience||Super convenient||Sometimes not|
|Cost to Buy||Quite affordable||A bit expensive|
|Running Cost||Fairly reasonable||Inexpensive but pricier than electrics|
|Portability||Yes||Not available in every make and model|
Related Article: A to Z of Master Forge Electric Smoker Reviews in 2021
Which One Infuses Food With Better Flavour?
Flavour is the criteria where two of them differs the most. Both of them runs on electricity. So how they produce different flavoured food? The answer is their heating process is different.
In electric smoker, electricity is the source of heat. There’s a tray for wood chips and a water pan. The heat produced by the electricity slowly burns the wood, and water is vaporized to help the smoking process. Mainly its an oven with steam and smoke.
On the other hand, electric pellet smokers use the combustion process. It ignites the wood pellets, and food is cooked in that heat. So rather than using electricity as the heat source, wood is utilized here. And this is where the unbelievably rich and smoky flavour comes from.
So, electrics does an okay job in infusing the food with satisfactory smokey flavour. But, if the flavor is your topmost priority go for the electric pellet smokers. They offer you the unbeatable taste with oozing flavour and deep impressive smoke ring.
Which one has to offer more convenience?
Well, this is the fun of using electrics. They are just set and forget. Set the right temperature with the push of a button, load your meat, and you’re good to go. No babysitting needed.
As both the electric and pellet smoker is super easy to operate, so here’s a tie between them.
But as the pellet grill takes up more space and produces a lot more smoke, the place you live in might not allow you to have it sometimes. So here comes the tiebreaker between them.
Have got a spacious backyard? Get a pellet smoker. Live in an apartment or a condo? Buy the electric one to have tender, succulent and woody flavoured bbq without annoying your neighbourhood.
Which one is more expensive to buy?
If you are on a tight budget, then good news for you. The electric ones are super cost-effective, starting from $100 they can run up to $500. Paying extra doesn’t mean to change the outcome. The additional price you pay will bring you more room for food, greater quality and extra added feature to enhance your cooking experience.
In contrast, the pellet grills start at $550. Full-size high quality with a sear box crosses $1000. Here the extra money buys you fancy features like rotisserie, warming racks, searing station, wi-fi connectivity etc. Already have got a grill with those advanced options? No need to pay the extra cash. Stick to the entry-level pellet smoker.
So, opt for an electric one if you’re looking for a decent smoker without making a hole in your pocket. Again, if you’re willing to invest more on a top-notch quality bbq then go for the pellet grills.
Related Article: Can You Use Wood Pellets in A Charcoal Grill?
Which one is more cost-efficient to use?
Here lies a pretty significant difference between the two. An electric smoker runs on electricity and uses about 3-6 ounces of wood to create the smoke. On the other hand, a pellet grill runs on the electricity too but uses a lot more wood per cook.
So before you get to the work, in case of an electric if you’ve got a wood chunk or two, you’re good to go. But if you’ve got a pellet grill, it’s not enough. And you’ve got no way of cooking other than running to the store. So, don’t forget to buy in bulk and store. It really helps.
However, per hour of the cooking session, you’ll need 1 or 2 pound pellets while the electric use only 6-8 ounces per cook. So, if you do the math 10 hours of smoking cost nearly $10 in pellet one and a buck in the electric, which makes it the winner here. But the flavour you’ll get in the pellet grill will be exceptional and all worth it.
Which one is easier to maintain?
For maintenance, both of them required a nice cleaning of the grease and oil after every use. In an electric smoker, you need to remove burnt wood chunks and empty the water pan. Whereas in pellet grill you need to get rid of the ashes. So both of them require the nearly same amount of time and effort to maintain.
Therefore, in the case of maintenance, we have got another tie.
Which one offers more portability?
Here’s where the electric one wins. It’s lighter and smaller than a pellet smoker. The size of it is pretty compact just like your dorm room refrigerator. So it gives you unmatchable flexibility with the wheels attached to it. Are you planning to camp? You can easily carry it there and plug and play to have a great bbq feast! The Masterbuilt, Char-Broil, Smokin-It are some best electric smokers bbq lovers around the world who are using and loving.
On the contrary, generally, a pellet smoker is heavier and takes up more space. But the good news for you there is some small and light pellet grills that have got wheels too! Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 offers you the finest camping experience with super flexibility and 6 different cooking styles.
Which one provides versatile options?
Here’s where the pellet smoker really offers more. Not just smoking it rewards you with more cooking options like grilling, broiling, roasting and even baking. But with the electric one, you only can add the smokey flavour to your favourite bbq.
Do you want to smoke some light meals at around 110 degrees? The electric smokers will help you to smoke nuts, fishes and veggies. Whereas, in a pellet smoker run too hot for them. Again, with the vertical shape of it like a refrigerator, you will get more space to cook in a session.
So, while pellet grill is providing you with the freedom to cook in more options, an electric smoker is offering you to smoke a variety of food other than meat. So choose the one that fit your preference.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do electric smokers use a lot of electricity?
Well, most of them use 800 watts per hour. If you smoke for 10 hours, it will be 8000 watt-hours or 8 kilowatt-hours. Now multiply this result with the charges of electricity in your area. So, basically, it’s reasonably inexpensive. Besides, it’s pretty hassle-free in comparison with the gas or charcoal ones as you don’t have to control the temperature during the whole process.
Can you use pellets in an electric smoker?
Yes, but try to use hardwood pellets as they burn slow and clean. Regular pellets ignite easily and produce a LOT more smoke in just a few minutes. But if you’ve mistakenly bought them or want to try it for a change, then here’s a hack for you.
Wrap them in foil or put them in a tin foil pouch. Poke a few holes in it. This will control the rate of the burn and give the perfect result.
But don’t forget the manufacturers advises you not to use wood pellets in the electric smoker so this may void your warranty.
Can you use pellets in a Masterbuilt electric smoker?
The manufacturers suggest to use the wood chips only. If you’ve got yourself a MES 400 Electric Smoker, depending on your smoke setting you can use either put wood chips or chunks in the side loader. Otherwise, your warranty might be at risk.
Again, if you really need to use it, we warn you they burn in real quick like half cup burns in about 20 minutes. So you may need to refill a lot. You can try A-MAZE-N smoker. Bbq enthusiasts swear by it as it can be used in any smoker or grill. On top of that, you don’t need to refill that frequently.
Should I buy a pellet grill?
Sure. Pellet grill can be a great investment if you’re up for juicy, flavourful bbq. Here are the pros and cons of pellet grills:
- Rich, smoky flavourful bbq
- Easy to use
- Availability of versatile cooking options
- Low maintenance
- Lacks in portability
- Not convenient for people who live in apartments where they aren’t allowed to use pellets
If you’re interested, PitBoss Vertical Pellet Smoker can be an amazing option for you without breaking the bank. BBQ experts all over the world are swearing by this small and compact yet inexpensive product.
Is a pellet smoker better than an electric smoker?
Well, both of them have their advantages and disadvantages. The electric smoker pros and cons include:
- Easy to operate
- Small and compact size
- Lighter flavoured food
- Doesn’t create a smoke ring
- Softer bark
- Doesn’t offer versatility
So, when you weigh both kinds of smokers, the pros of pellet grills win against the cons of an electric smoker. Therefore, we can say, if you’re willing to invest more, pellet smoker is definitely a better choice.
Do pellet smokers use a lot of electricity?
Well, they use 300 watt per hour, which is quite lesser than an electric one. To give you a clearer picture, if you smoke for 10 hours, it will be 3000 watt-hours or 3 kilowatt-hours. Now after multiplying this result with the charges of electricity in your area, you’ll find they’re really cheap. Besides, it offers you flavourful bbq as the one charcoal smoker provides without watching it during the whole process.
Are pellet smokers as good as wood smokers?
Pellet smoker gives you an authentic flavoured bbq with impressive deep barks and smoke rings. On top of that, they don’t require much supervision which is needed in wood smokers. But hardcore bbq experts complain they produce less smokey flavour and more moist than what you get from a wood smoker.
How long does a bag of pellets last in a smoker?
It depends on the temperature you’re smoking in. A 20 pound bag of Traeger Pellets can last from 6 hours to 24 hours depending on your cooking temperature.
It’s better to buy them in bulk. Doing so, you save more and avoid emergency trips to the local store.
The Bottom Line
Hope you’ve got a quick and clear picture on pellet vs electric smoker and have come up with the tough choice on which one to buy. If the flavor is all that matter to you, invest on pellet smoker you’ll never regret. If you’re looking for a low budget and portable option, choose the electric ones. They provide the classic woody flavour to die for. Wish you a happy smoking journey and the envy of friends and family!